Local Hospitals, NYC Health Dept. Test Pediatric Surge Readiness In Simulated Emergency

May 24, 2024

By NYC.gov

Health systems and New York City participated in a joint emergency exercise to test the system’s readiness for crises and prepare for future public health emergencies.

The two-hour exercise scenario — which took place on Thursday, May 23, 2024 — focused on an emergency event that resulted in a surge of pediatric patients with injuries. Participating hospitals included Northwell / Cohen Children’s Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and NYC Health + Hospitals / Jacobi. The Health Department provided technical assistance and other support for the exercise. 

“… we must test and challenge ourselves constantly.”

“From COVID-19 to isolated disease outbreaks, the Health Department has a long and distinguished record of emergency response,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. “To keep our emergency response capacity sharp, we must test and challenge ourselves constantly. Exercises like these keep the Health Department response ready, which has been a top priority coming out of the pandemic.”

NYC Health + Hospitals is a strong advocate of our city’s preparedness activities,” said Madeline Tavarez, MPA, CHEP, Senior Director of Emergency Management Planning and Operations at NYC Health + Hospitals. “These exercises not only allow us to test our plans but also to foster the imperative relationships that allow us to navigate significant real-world events.”

“Cohen Children’s Medical Center is proud to work with our colleagues to test the readiness of our teams to respond to any emergency that may come into our hospitals,” said Matthew Harris, EMS physician and medical director for Northwell Emergency Preparedness. “When an actual emergency happens, it won’t be at our convenience. Planning and training give hospitals a chance to refine their plans, so we are ready to best serve our patients if and when an emergency strikes.”  

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The exercise was planned and conducted by the New York City Pediatric Disaster Coalition (PDC), which is an organization with subject matter expertise in emergency preparedness, pediatric critical care, and emergency medicine. PDC is a member of the NYC Health Care Coalition and works with healthcare partners across the city to prepare for pediatric-related emergencies.  

The exercise tested the ability of healthcare facilities to:

  • activate their mass casualty plans in a short period of time;
  • assess personnel and resource needs and effectively meet these needs;
  • review internal and external communications;
  • refine facilities’ operations to triage patients for treatment or transfer to specialty facilities; and,
  • coordinate effectively between facilities when clinical resources are strained or depleted.

This full scale pediatric surge exercise is funded by and was conducted to meet emergency preparedness requirements for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response Hospital Preparedness Program. This program is the primary source of federal funding that supports local public health and health care systems to effectively prepare for and respond to emergencies. 

Photo credit: HWM.

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